Israel News for March 31, 2017

New Settlement
The Security Cabinet unanimously approved the establishment of a new settlement for the former residents of Amona, which was evacuated last month. Other government ministers were contacted after the vote to obtain their approval. This is the first time in over 20 years that the government has decided to establish a new settlement. The former Amona residents praised the move.

A senior US administration official said that President Trump has accepted the construction of the new town as an exception to his request that Israel “hold off” on settlement construction.

The official said, “We would note that the Israeli prime minister made a commitment to the Amona settlers prior to President Trump laying out his expectations, and has consistently indicated that he intended to move forward with this plan. Going forward, and as we move into more detailed discussions regarding the possibilities for advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace, the Israeli government has made clear that Israel’s intent is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes President Trump’s concerns into consideration.”

A spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned the decision to build the new settlement saying, “The Secretary General has consistently stressed that there is no Plan B for Israelis and Palestinians to live together in peace and security. He condemns all unilateral actions that, like the present one, threaten peace and undermine the two-state solution.”

The Palestinian Authority as well as Peace Now also condemned the building of the new settlement.

For further reading click here.

Limiting Settlements
The Security Cabinet also decided last night to restrict all construction beyond the Green Line to within the boundaries of existing settlements. The decision comes after nearly three weeks of discussions with US officials in Israel and Washington. Sources said the decision was taken out of consideration of the position of US President Donald Trump, and that Israel will also significantly curb building to enable efforts to advance a diplomatic process with the Palestinians.

The decision implies that Israel will make every effort to build within existing settlements where possible. However, if no land is available within a settlement, then building will take place as close to the settlement as possible. So the decision basically bans the establishment of outposts or brand new settlements.

For further reading click here.

Pro BDS Jews
Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) will kick off its national conference in Chicago today. According to its mission statement, the JVP “seeks an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and east Jerusalem” and “a just solution for Palestinian refugees based on principles established in international law”, among other things. The organization has been a vocal supporter of the BDS movement.

One of the speakers at the conference will be convicted Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh, who participated in two bombings in Jerusalem in 1969 in which two were killed and nine injured. Odeh was released in a prisoner exchange in the 1980s. She later moved to the US, but in 2014 she was convicted by a US federal jury of immigration fraud, for concealing her arrest, conviction and imprisonment for the 1969 bombings. Last week, she agreed to plead guilty to this.

In response to outrage over Odeh’s participation in the conference, the JVP said that it is honored and proud to feature her and that, “The accusations against Odeh stem from a context of long-standing anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim persecution by both the Israeli state and the United States, policies which are escalating under the Trump administration.”

Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said: “The JVP is an antisemitic organization which incites against Israel. It regularly cooperates with extremist organizations which seek Israel’s destruction. It is inexcusable that the organization chose to host at its conference a terrorist who was convicted for her involvement in murdering two Israeli students.

I will continue to lead a determined struggle against those who seek to harm Israel and undermine its legitimacy. As a Jew I am ashamed that a conference that is filled with hatred for Israel, and whose sole purpose is to harm the homeland of the Jewish people, is led by a Jewish organization.”

For further reading click here.

Flight Compensation
If you’ve been stuck at the airport waiting for an El Al flight that’s been delayed, you might have some recourse. The Rehovot Magistrates Court has ordered EL AL to pay NIS 92,000 to 35 passengers (NIS 2,050 each) who’s flight to Moscow was delayed for 17 hours.

According to the Aviation Services Law, compensation is awarded based on the length of the flight. The law exempts airlines from paying compensation in cases in which the cancelation or delay of a flight was caused by “special circumstances.”

El Al did provide the passengers with dinner and hotel rooms.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for March 30, 2017

Terror Attempt
A Palestinian woman attempted to stab Border Police officers with a pair of scissors outside of Jerusalem’s Old City’s Damascus Gate yesterday. Police shot and killed her before she could cause any harm.

The woman, Siham Nimr, 49, from the Shuafat refugee camp in eastern Jerusalem, was the mother of a man shot by police when the car he was a passenger in rammed through a checkpoint. The driver of the car was under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Police assumed that the ramming was terror related.

For further reading click here.

Terrorist Released
Haitham Faiz Muari, one of the terrorists convicted in the lynching of two IDF reservists in Ramallah in 2000, was released from prison yesterday and sent to Gaza. Muari had requested a retrial and his original murder conviction was converted to lesser charges due to new evidence which made definitive identification of Muari difficult at the level required in a criminal case.

Muari had been a Palestinian police officer who had arrested the two soldiers and beat them at the station. He was originally convicted of murder. Following the new trial he was convicted only of not preventing a criminal action and of attacking a soldier. Based on a new plea bargain agreement, his time already served was deemed acceptable, allowing for his release.

For further reading click here.

Hit List
Hamas has released a hit list video of seven Israeli leaders with targets over their faces. This comes after a senior Hamas commander was gunned down by unknown assailants in Gaza last Friday night. Hamas blames Israel for the assassination and has vowed to avenge the killing.

The seven Israeli leaders in the video are Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman; IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot; Shin Bet Director Nadav Argaman; Mossad Director Yossi Cohen; IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi; Minister of Public Security and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan; and Oz Brigade Commander David Zini.

Meanwhile, Shin Bet Director Nadav Argaman warned the the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee earlier this month that Hamas and other organized terror cells will try to carry out attacks over the Passover holiday. IDF forces are on high alert.

For further reading click here.

Arab League Summit
The one day Arab League Summit in Jordan yesterday culminated with the Arab leaders relaunching their 2002 peace plan, which normalizes relations with Israel in exchange for Israel ceding territory captured in 1967 to a Palestinian state. Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said, “The summit has ended with a message of peace.”

Trump envoy Jason Greenblatt attended the summit as an observer and met with Arab leaders and other foreign delegations to discuss U.S. perspectives and policies. According to a White House statement “the dialogue at the meetings was open, frank, and helpful.”

For further reading click here.

New Ambassador
David Friedman was sworn in yesterday as the new US Ambassador to Israel by VP Mike Pence. Friedman’s wife, Tammy, their five children and most of their grandchildren watched. At the ceremony Pence said, “The president of the United States of America is a lifelong friend of Israel and the Jewish people and, under his leadership, if the world knows nothing else the world will know this: America stands with Israel.”

White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters that Trump “is glad that Ambassador Friedman will be officially on board as we strive for a lasting peace in the Middle East,” and that, “Mr. Friedman’s strong relationships in Israel will be a tremendous asset to the president in furthering that mission.”

The Senate approved Friedman’s nomination last week by a vote of 52-46. He has resigned from the law firm that he founded to take on his new post.

For further reading click here.

Anti BDS
Thousands attended a conference opposing the BDS movement at the United Nations headquarters in New York yesterday. The conference, sponsored by the World Jewish Congress and Israel’s mission to the U.N., focused on ways to combat the movement on campus and on social media. Israeli UN Ambassador Danon and US Ambassador to the UN Haley addressed the conference in the UN General Assembly.

For further reading click here.

Airport Carts
Starting in July, travelers at Ben Gurion airport will have to use their credit cards in order to use a luggage cart. The carts have always been free (unlike most other airports) but now will require a NIS 10 deposit, which will be credited back to the user after they return the cart to its designated place. So it’s still free, but now you have to clean up after yourself. No more leaving a mess!

For further reading click here.

Israel News for March 29, 2017

Soldier Attacked
On Monday an IDF soldier driving a water truck made a wrong turn while driving in the Gush Etzion area and ended up in the Arab village of Sa’ir, the home of many terrorists in the last two years. Palestinians began throwing stones at him. He was wounded. Local residents came to his aid and brought him into a nearby structure. Palestinian police were called to the scene and extracted the soldier from the village. He was then picked up by IDF forces and taken to Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.

For further reading and to view a video click here.

Arab League
The annual Arab League Summit kicked off at a location near the Dead Sea in Jordan with an address by Jordan’s King Hussein. The king said, “Israel is continuing to expand settlements and wreck chances of peace … There is no peace or stability in the region without a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian cause through a two-state solution.”

This should be fun.

For further reading click here.

Haredi Protests
Around 10,000 Haredi (ultra-orthodox) protesters demonstrated in Jerusalem against the IDF drafting of yeshiva students. There have been numerous smaller demonstrations throughout Israel, organized by an organization called the Peleg Yerushalmi (Jerusalem Faction), headed by Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach.

The rabbi addressed the demonstration saying, “This is the uprooting of all that is sacred and holy. Our job is to stand guard and not be swayed by any compromises or offers of facilitation.” He added, “We cannot make peace with this reality.”

For further reading click here.

Minister’s Limitations
Following recent remarks by IDF Chief Rabbi Yigal Levinstein which were seen as disparaging of women serving in the IDF, Defense Minister Lieberman summoned him for a hearing and threatened to impose sanctions against the pre-army preparatory yeshiva that he heads. Not so fast.

The Attorney General has determined that the Defense Minister does not have the authority to cut funding or revoke official recognition of the yeshiva because that would fall under the authority of the Mistry of Education. He also can’t remove Rabbi Levinstein from his position as head of the yeshiva.

However, Lieberman can still use other means to make life tough for Levinstein and the yeshiva if he so decides.

For further reading click here.

Greece Exercise
Israeli air force pilots will be participating in a two week long joint military exercise along with pilots from Greece, the US and the United Arab Emirates. The UAE has no diplomatic relations with Israel.

For a video report click here.

Diplomatic Relations
Speaking at a memorial ceremony for former heads of state, PM Netanyahu said, “Today, we are blessed with excellent relations with more than 160 countries. That number is growing. Next week, another country will announce the establishment of relations with the State of Israel.” Sources predict that the country the PM was referring to is Nicaragua, which severed relations with Israel in 2010.

For further reading click here.

Court Strike
You’ve heard of teachers, bus drivers, pilots, garbage men and every other category of worker going on strike in Israel. Well, believe it or not, now Israel’s judges are threatening to go on strike and shut down the court system over demands for better retirement benefits. Will they be wearing their robes in the picket line?

For further reading click here.

Rabbinic Ruling
The rabbinical court of the Be’er Sheva region issued a monumental ruling. The case involved a woman who got married in Georgia (USSR) 60 year ago. Then, without divorcing her husband, she moved to Israel and registered as a widow. She then proceeded to have a daughter with another man. That gave the daughter the Jewish legal status of “mamzer”, which would prohibit her or any of her offspring from ever marrying another Jew. Since she did in fact marry and have children (before the mother’s marriage was revealed), they all would be prohibited from marrying.

After a thorough investigation including testifies from people who witnessed the wedding 60 years ago, the rabbinical court ruled that the original marriage was invalid because the witnesses were not kosher, there was no rabbi officiating and the ring might not even have belonged to the husband.

The court’s ruling, made by three respected senior rabbinical judges, retroactively removes the status of mamzer from all of the offspring and permits them to marry.

Mazal Tov!!

For further reading click here.

Israel News for March 27, 2017

Terror Foiled
This morning a terrorist tried to stab a soldier with a screwdriver, at a bus stop near the Samaria Territorial Brigade’s base in the Nablus area. Soldiers succeeded in overpowering the terrorist without opening fire. There were no casualties.

For further reading click here.

Pence at AIPAC
VP Pence addressed the 18,000 strong AIPAC convention in Washington yesterday, touting President Trump as the defender of Israel and the Jewish People. He also implied that the crowd supported Trump’s election, saying, “Thanks to the support of so many in this room President Trump won a historic victory. All of you helped elect a president I know will make America great again.”

Pence also said, “The United States will no longer allow the United Nations to be used as a forum for invective against Israel,” and that he was looking forward to the swearing in of David Friedman as the new ambassador to Israel.

At the same time, Pence said that Trump was “giving serious consideration” to moving the US embassy to Jerusalem — not that he would definitely fulfill his promise to move it. He also implied some sort of restrictions on settlement expansion when he said, “and undoubtedly there will have to be compromises,” in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Regarding the “disastrous” Iran nuclear deal, Pence made no indication that Trump would tear it up or renegotiate it, as promised during the campaign.

Meanwhile, several hundred Jewish protesters demonstrated outside the AIPAC conference, temporarily blocking the main entrance. The protesters, coordinated by IfNotNow, are targeting AIPAC for supporting Israel’s “occupation of the West Bank” and for not speaking out forcefully against some of Trump’s policies.

For further reading click here.

Settler Population Surge
According to statistics released yesterday, the number of Israelis living in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) has surged by more than 25% over the last five years to 420,000. The figures do not include Israelis living in any areas of east Jerusalem, where the total number is 200,000.

Settler leaders are using the latest population figures to support the case for a one-state solution. But the reality is that the overwhelming majority of Israelis in the West bank live in a few large settlement blocks which could be annexed to Israel and still allow for a potential two-state solution.

For further reading click here.

Iranian Sanctions
Iran’s Foreign Ministry has imposed cautions on 15 American companies, barring them from any agreements with Iranian firms and and prohibiting their er directors from getting visas. One of the reasons given for the sanctions is that the companies support Israel. The companies include Bent Tal, United Technologies Products. ITT Corporation, Raytheon, Re/Max Real Estate, Magnum Research Inc., Oshkosh Corporation, Kahr Arms and Elbit Systems.

For further reading click here.

Stepping Down
Remember the Trump administration’s Holocaust Remembrance Day statement that didn’t mention Jews? Well, the Jewish White House staffer who allegedly wrote the statement is leaving his post.

Boris Epshteyn will be stepping down from his job as special assistant to the president in the press office, in which he oversaw White House officials who appear on television to speak on behalf of the administration. He might still remain in the administration, in a lower profile role.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for March 24, 2017

Terror Attack
Three terrorists exited a vehicle and threw gasoline bombs at the Best El settlement near Ramallah. IDF soldiers fired at the terrorists, hitting them all. One of the terrorists, identified as Muhammed Hattab, 17, died of his wounds a short time later. A demonstration against Israel’s military rule took place in Ramallah’s Manara Square in the hours following the Hattab’s death.

For further reading click here.

Ambassador Confirmed
The US Senate voted 52 to 46 to confirm David Friedman as the new US Ambassador to Israel yesterday. Just two Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Bob Menendez of New Jersey, crossed party lines to vote in favor of confirmation.

PM Netanyahu tweeted, “New US ambassador to Israel David Friedman will be warmly welcomed as President Trump’s representative and as a close friend of Israel.”

Israel’s US Ambassador Ron Dermer tweeted, “Congratulations to David Friedman! Looking forward to working closely with you to make the US-Israel alliance stronger than ever.”

The YESHA council, which represents the settlement movement, said in a statement, “The Yesha Council look forward to working together with him to build a brighter future for everyone in the region. The Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria are an integral piece in the puzzle for peace and can no longer be sidelined.”

Friedman has been an outspoken supporter of the settlement movement and a one-state solution.

J Street slammed Friedman’s appointment saying, “Almost half of the Senate voted to oppose this deeply unqualified and inappropriate nominee, whose predecessors had all been confirmed without a single vote cast against them. The strong opposition to Friedman made clear that his extreme views and rhetoric about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are firmly outside the mainstream of American policy making.”

Now the question is where will Friedman work — Tel aviv or Jerusalem?

For further reading click here.

Settlement Talks
The White House released a statement following talks between US and Israeli delegations in Washington this week. The talks followed a visit to Israel by US envoy Jason Greenblatt, who lead the US delegation in the discussions.

The White House statement said:

“A principal focus of the discussions was specific measures that could have a meaningful impact on the economic environment in the West Bank and Gaza, allowing the Palestinians to more fully realize their economic potential.

The two delegations also discussed Israeli settlement construction, following up on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to Washington and Mr. Greenblatt’s recent visit to Israel.

The United States delegation reiterated President Trump’s concerns regarding settlement activity in the context of moving towards a peace agreement. The Israeli delegation made clear that Israel’s intent going forward is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes those concerns into consideration.”

The Prime Minister’s Office released a statement denying that Greenblatt had demanded any form of settlement construction freeze, after that was reported in the Israeli media.

Netanyahu told reporters on Wednesday, before he left China, that “significant progress” had been made in the talks in Washington but gave no further information.

For further reading click here.

Caller Busted
The Israel Police announced yesterday the arrest of an 18 year old Israeli -American resident of Ashkelon, who called in dozens of bomb threats to JCCs and other public institutions in the US, Australia and New Zealand over the past few months. The arrest was the culmination of a joint investigation between the Israel Police and the FBI.

Police got their break when the suspect, on one occasion, neglected to mask the IP address he was using to make a call. The address led police to a public wifi spot near the suspect’s apartment, which had a large antenna extended out of the suspects window. Police said they found at least five computers, a number of network interface controllers, satellite and antenna equipment during the arrest raid.

The suspect’s lawyer said that her client suffered from a “very serious medical condition” which had prevented him from attending school or serving in the IDF.

For further reading click here.

Texas and Samaria
A special cooperation agreement was signed between the State of Texas and the Samaria Regional Council in the Knesset last week. The agreement will include the exchange of technologies and expertise in agriculture and water technologies.

Public Security Minister and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said, “The State of Israel and Texas share many common values, including the deep connection to the land and the importance of working and preserving it, and the potential for increasing economic cooperation between Israel and Texas is enormous. I thank the Texas government for its steadfast support for Israel and for promoting legislation against the BDS movement. I believe that legislation is an effective tool to combat the delegitimization campaign against Israel.”

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said, “We want to re-establish the relations between Texas and Israel, and especially with Samaria, which is such a significant part of the Land of Israel, we want to be partners of Israel and Samaria to recreate the brotherhood that was lost in recent years.”

For further reading click here.

Israel News for March 23, 2017

Cop Gone Wild
On Tuesday afternoon an Arab truck driver in East Jerusalem hit the bumper of a parked car while attempting to back out of his space. He then left the scene. Unfortunately for him, a security camera caught the event on video and the car belonged to a police officer in a special patrol unit.

Early Thursday morning the police officer showed up at the man’s truck and demanded he get out. When he did, the officer beat the heck out of him. Unfortunately for the cop, there were witnesses (some of whom the cop also assaulted) and the beating was captured on video.

The police officer was suspended and the Police Investigation Unit launched a probe.
The Police statement said, “This behavior is grave, abnormal and is not in line with the kind of behavior expected of police officers. When we received the video, the police officer was immediately put on forced leave and will be summoned for a disciplinary hearing at a later stage. The Police Investigations Unit is examining the matter.”
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan praised the decision to suspend the officer, saying his behavior “was very grave and worthy of condemnation. This kind of behavior hurts the entire police force.”

To view the video click here.

Lebanese Threats
According to the Lebanese media, the speaker of the Lebanese parliament Nabih Berri said that Israel’s intentions to annex an 860 kilometer maritime area claimed by Lebanon could trigger a war between the two countries.

Berri said, “This is a new assault by Israel on Lebanese sovereignty. What has been revealed by Israeli media was not arbitrary, but rather reveals a path taken by Israel in a bid to control Lebanon’s gas and oil wealth within Lebanese economic borders. Anyway, if the Israeli disposition is correct, which I tend to believe, it is tantamount to a war sparked by Israel. It is another maritime Shebaa Farms Conflict which opens the situation to many dangerous possibilities.”

For further reading click here.

Men Only
In light of the move by the IDF to integrate women into combat units, the IDF told a group of religious-zionist rabbis that it will create gender separate officer training courses starting this summer. Religious soldiers who wish to will be able to serve in the all men companies while others will be able to remain in co-ed units.

The change is expected to be minor. The IDF’s co-ed battalions— Caracal, the Lions of Jordan, Bardelas and the new 47th Battalion—only have a handful of religious soldiers, while there are also very few female cadets in the co-ed companies at the IDF officers’ training course.

For further reading click here.

Coke Fined
The Israel Antitrust Authority slapped a NIS 62.7 million on the Central Bottling Company Group, which manufactures Coca Cola in Israel. In addition to owning the Coca Cola brand in Israel, the company also owns brands like Kinley, Fanta and Sprite as well as full ownership of the Tara dairy, Neviot mineral waters, Prigat fresh juices and the license to brew the Tuborg, Carlsberg, Stella Artois, Guinness and other beer brands in Israel.

The company allegedly offered discounts on its monopoly soft drink products like Coca Cola to retail chains, institutional customers and cafes prepared to buy Tara dairy products. At the same time, the company allegedly threatened institutional customers that if they did not buy Tara dairy products, they would not receive discounts on Coca Cola products. Such cross-marketing involving a monopoly product is a criminal offense.

For further reading click here.

Yemenite Images
New photos have been released of Yemenite immigrants to Israel in the 1950’s. See view some of the photos click here.

Israel News for March 22, 2017

Gaza Infiltration
Three men were spotted approaching the border fence from Gaza last night, in a “no go” area. Idk lookouts spotted them and a tank opened fire at the men, killing one and wounded two. The IDF is investigating whether the three were trying to plant an explosive device.

For further reading click here.

Evacuation Plans
Israel is drawing up contingency plans to evacuate up to a quarter-million civilians from border communities to protect them from attacks executed by Hamas, Hezbollah or other Islamic militant groups. The mass evacuations would be the biggest in Israel’s history, part of a bigger plan where the army works with municipalities to keep civilians safe.

Elements of the evacuation plan, codenamed “Safe Distance,” were disclosed by a senior Israeli officer in an interview to The Associated Press. “In 2017, all of Israel is under threat,” said Col. Itzik Bar of the military’s Homefront Command. Preparations are underway for Israel to deal with “very high amounts” of incoming fire, he said.

The evacuation plan would apply mainly to communities adjacent to the borders. Evacuees would be housed in existing infrastructure, including hotels, schools and Kibbutz guest houses. Small core groups would stay behind in evacuated areas to maintain vital infrastructure and ensure that communities “function the day after the fighting.”

For further reading click here.

Terror Rights
This story might seem unbelievable, but keep in mind we’re talking about the UN. Ok, here goes.

Mohammed Aliyan, the father of terrorist Baha Aliyan, who murdered three Israelis in the east Talpiot neighborhood in Jerusalem in 2015, took part in a UN Human Rights Council meeting on Monday as part of a Palestinian delegation of families of dead terrorists and security prisoners.

Aliyan spoke about how Israel executed his son, refused to release the body and demolished his home. Since the terror attack Aliyan has launched a campaign to glorify his terrorist son. He speaks to groups and conferences in Israel and internationally about what he considers to be Israeli human rights violations and collective punishment.

For further reading click here.

Vietnam Visit
President Reuven Rivlin is currently leading an Israeli delegation on a visit to Vietnam. The delegation includes representatives of Israeli defense and technology companies. The purpose of the visit is to sign agreements to increase military and technological cooperation between the countries. Vietnam is a major purchaser of Israeli made military products.

For further reading click here.

Chabad Beijing
While on their official visit in China with the PM Netanyahu, Minister of the Environment Ze’ev Elkin and Health Minister Yaakov Litzman stopped by the Chabad Headquarters in Beijing to pray, eat and meet with officials of the Chinese Ministry of Religion [apparently even they have one of those]. Chabad of Beijing provided all of the meals for the Israeli delegation throughout its China visit.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for March 21, 2017

Annexing Territory
Israel will soon introduce a bill in the Knesset to annex a disputed 800 square kilometer triangular maritime area between Israeli and Lebanese territory. The area is thought to be rich in natural gas and oil. Israeli rule will be environmentally beneficial to the area, as Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection will apply and oversee relevant environmental regulations there.

For further reading click here.

David’s Sling
The IAF announced yesterday that Israel’s multi-tier air defense missile defense system will be fully operational early next month with the deployment of the David’s Sling interceptor.
David’s Sling, designed to intercept and shoot down rockets fired from 100 to 200 kilometers away, will be the final piece of a shield that already includes short-range Iron Dome and long-range Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 missiles.

For further reading click here.

Extradition Rejected
A Jordanian court rejected an extradition request by the US to extradite Ahlam Tamimi, the female terrorist convicted of taking part in the suicide bombing at the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem in 2001. Tamimi drove the suicide bomber to the restaurant, where 15 people were killed and 130 injured. According to a Jordanian legal expert, the US and Jordan signed an extradition agreement in 1995, but it was never approved by the Jordanian parliament and is therefore not valid.

After being sentenced to 16 life terms, Tamimi was released as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange after serving just eight years. After her release from prison, Tamimi became a television star in Jordan and a symbol of the struggle against Israel.

In an interview with Hamas, Tamimi said, “It was a calculated act conducted with conviction and faith in Allah. A Jihad warrior is always ready for martyrdom, imprisonment or to succeed in the mission. I succeeded in overcoming prison and I was released—why should I be regretful?”
Tamimi is on the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists.

For further reading click here.

BDS Arrest
Omar Barghouti, founder of both the BDS movement and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, was arrested in Israel on suspicion he committed tax evasion over the past decade, concealing $700,000 in earned income from tax authorities. Investigators say Barghouti concealed funds he received from a company in the PA and from speaking engagements.

Born in Qatar and raised in Egypt, Barghouti received permanent residency status in Israel when he married an Israeli Arab woman. He currently resides in Acre (Akko).

For further reading click here.

China Trip
PM Netanyahu is currently leading an Israeli delegation on an official visit to China. One of the primary purposes of the visit is to improve and strengthen economic and scientific ties between the two countries. Included in the Israeli delegation are Economy and Industry Minister Eli Cohen, Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Akunis, and Environmental Protection Minister Ze’ev Elkin.

Israeli and Chinese ministers and top officials have already signed ten bilateral agreements in health, science, education, environmental protection and other areas. Included in these is an agreement that will bring 6,000 Chinese construction workers to Israel in the next six months and a total of 20,000 in the near future. The hope is that these workers can help increase the construction industry’s output and reduce prices.

For further reading click here.

israel air force

Israel News for March 20, 2017

Israel Attacks
According to Syrian sources, Israeli drone attacked a vehicle on the road to Damascus, killing a member of a pro government militia. The IDF refused to confirm or deny the reports.

The reported strike came hours after Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman threatened to destroy Syrian air defense systems, after Israeli aircraft were targeted during a bombing run early Friday morning.

“The next time the Syrians use their air defense systems against our planes we will destroy them without the slightest hesitation,” Lieberman said on Israel Radio.

Yesterday, Syrian media reported that Israel attacked military positions and Hezbollah targets.

For further reading click here.

Israeli Delegation in DC
Following Trump envoy Jason Greenblatt’s meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Israel last week, an Israeli delegation has arrived in Washington to continue talks to try and reach an understanding regarding settlement construction and ways of restarting the peace process.

The Israeli delegation is headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief of staff Yoav Horowitz and foreign policy adviser Jonathan Schachter, and includes Israel’s US Ambassador Ron Dermer.

For further reading click here.

Shin Bet Warning
Shin Bet Director Nadav Argaman told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee yesterday that the current calm in violence is “deceiving,” warning “there is non doubt” that Hamas and other organized terror cells will try to carry out attacks over the Passover holiday. He said that the Shin Bet (Israel’s version of the FBI) is working hard to thwart all attacks.

For further reading click here.

Terrorist Convicted
The Palestinian terrorist who killed American yeshiva student Ezra Schwartz and three others was sentenced to four life sentences for the November 2015 attack. Mohammed Abed Odeh Harub was sentenced Sunday in an Israeli military court. He also was ordered to pay about $200,000 to the families of the victims.

For further reading click here.

IDF Shortage
The IDF is preparing to deal with a significant shortage of thousands of soldiers due to a decrease in compulsory military service for men from three years (36 months) to 32 months, and soon to 30 months.

Among solutions being examined is a more focused and intense training period to prepare soldiers sooner for operational duty. Training segments expected to be cut from basic training and advanced training include weeks of guard duty and various rotation-based assignments. Also, soldiers serving in Special Forces will be expected to sign on for additional service periods.

Two options that were discussed were extending the length of service of women—from 24 months to 28 months—and of yeshiva students. Both options were blocked by Ayelet Shaked and religious officials, respectfully.

For further reading click here.
Shabbat Rebuke
Haredi lawmakers slammed PM Netanyahu for conducting a government meeting on Shabbat. Netanyahu met informally on Saturday at his official residence in Jerusalem with Likud ministers regarding the establishment of the Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation.

Minister of Health Rabbi Yaakov Litzman of the United Torah Judaism Party (UTJ), said, “I was shocked to hear about Prime Minister Netanyahu’s meeting with a few government ministers that was held in desecration of Shabbat. This does serious damage to the sanctity of Shabbat and a change for the worse from the status quo prevailing throughout the years not to hold official government activities on Shabbat and holidays. Shabbat is a national day of rest, and throughout generations, the people of Israel know to keep the holiness of Shabbat and prevent desecrating it.”

MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni (UTJ) called the meeting “very serious and unprecedented and unacceptable, even if it was an unofficial consultation.” Gafni said that the Prime Minister’s Office told him that the ministers came over in an unofficial capacity and that Netanyahu did not and does not violate Shabbat. The Prime Minister’s Office also reportedly promised that it would not happen again.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for March 14, 2017

PM Meets Greenblatt
PM Netanyahu met with US envoy Jason Greenblatt for over five hours in Jerusalem yesterday. The men discussed settlement construction and the peace process.

According to the PM’s Bureau’s statement, Netanyahu and Greenblatt reiterated both countries’ “commitment to promoting real and viable peace between Israel and Palestinians, which will strengthen Israel’s security and regional stability.”

Netanyahu told Greenblatt that he believes that under Trump’s leadership, peace between Israel and all of its neighbors, including the Palestinians, could be advanced, and that he is looking forward to working closely with the U.S. president to achieve that end. 

Greenblatt reiterated Trump’s commitment to Israel’s security and to aiding Israel and the Palestinians in reaching a peace treaty through direct negotiations. 

According to the statement, “The prime minister promised Mr. Greenblatt that he is totally committed to fostering prosperity in Palestinian economy and sees it as a way to improve the possibility of reaching peace.”

Today Greenblatt is scheduled to go to Ramallah to meet with PA President Abbas and other senior Palestinian officials. On Thursday Greenblatt will meet with opposition leader Isaac Herzog.

Accompanying Greenblatt on his trip is Yael Lempert, who held the Israel portfolio for the National Security Council at the White House during the Obama administration and has remained in the position under President Trump.

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PA Office Shut
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has ordered the closure of a Palestinian Authority agency office that was carrying out surveillance and registering of Arabs who sold land to Jews. The agency was operating in the Best Hanina neighborhood of Jerusalem and was recording the names of Arabs wishing to sell homes and land to Jews and passing them to PA security services in Ramallah.

Erdan said, “The activities of this Palestinian Authority agency are part of a plan to undermine our sovereignty in Jerusalem and terrorize Arabs who sell real estate to Jews. We will continue to act with determination to prevent any Palestinian government foothold in Jerusalem.”

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Huge Purchase
The U.S. chipmaker Intel will pay $14.7 billion to acquire the driverless technology firm Mobileye in what reportedly is the largest-ever purchase of an Israeli high-tech company.

In a joint announcement Monday, the companies said the combination “is expected to accelerate innovation for the automotive industry and position Intel as a leading technology provider in the fast-growing market for highly and fully autonomous vehicles.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel called Mobileye CEO Ziv Aviram to congratulate him, calling the deal in a tweet a source of “Israeli pride.” Aviram reportedly told Netanyahu that the company and its research would remain based in Israel.

Mobileye and Intel already are collaborating with BMW on a project that will see the production of 40 self-driving test cars. They are scheduled to hit the road later this year. The sale is expected to close in nine months, according to the companies.

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Kipa Tailor
Have you heard the one about the Gaza tailor who makes Kipot (skullcaps) and exports them to Israel. It’s no joke. Abu Shanab, a 61 year old Gaza resident, has added an additional production line in his clothing factory to satisfy increased demand from Israel. The labor costs in Gaza are quite a bit cheaper than in Israel.

Abu Shanab said, “We make all kinds of clothes and recently began making the skull caps worn by Israeli rabbis and Christian priests.” He added, “In the foundation of our religion, we believe in Christianity and Judaism, we believe in the prophets Musa (Moses) and Issa (Jesus), so we have no problem making headwear even if they are for Jews or Christians.”

Abu Shanab said he is also in talks with an Israeli buyer to produce the long coats worn by ultra-Orthodox Jews.

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Government Dressup
To celebrate the Purim holiday, many government officials and members of Knesset dressed up in costume. To see a few of them, click here.

The Brigade
If you need some inspiration along with the history of the beginnings of the IDF, then you must read The Brigade by Howard Blum, which tells the story of the Jewish brigade that served in the British army during WWII. Many of the future leaders of the IDF got their training and first combat experience in the brigade. The Jewish soldiers of the brigade did a lot more than fight the Nazis. Click here to read more and by the book.

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